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Cutler heads experienced crew

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There will be no shortage of expertise aboard Alec Cutler's Melges 32, Hedgehog, at the opening regatta of the Audi-Tron Sailing Series that commences today in Loano, Italy.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club skipper, who is a past J-22 world champion, has joined forces with Cameron Appleton who is regarded as one of leading tacticians in the sport.

Appleton, who competed against Cutler at the 2005 King Edward VII Gold Cup in Hamilton Harbor, won the 2000 America's Cup with Team New Zealand and is also a past European, US National and World Champion in the one-design Melges 32.

Also sailing with Cutler is Olympic silver medallist and past Melges 24 world champion Mike Wolfs.

It is this level of expertise that Cutler is pinning his hopes on for glory upon in Italy.

However, the Bermuda skipper has his work cut out in a formidable 18-boat field that also boasts America's Cup sailors John Kostecki, Flavio Favini and Francesco Bruni — the Argo Group Gold Cup winner, as well as Olympic medallist Jordi Calafat.

Max Skelley, Eric Dorman, Sarah Callahan, Alan Nakanishi and Jaro Furlani make up the remainder of the crew.

Last year, Cutler and his Hedgehog crew came from behind on the final day of racing to capture a maiden Quantum Key West title in the Melges 32 in Florida.

The past Bermuda National Match Race champion edged rival skipper Dalton DeVos aboard Delta on a countback after the two teams remained deadlocked after discarding their worst score.

Cutler, who finished runner up at the 2012 Melges 32 World Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, is also a past winner at the Melges 32 Miami Winter Regatta.

The “First of the Kings” at the Audi-Tron Sailing Series will be hosted by the Yacht Club Marina di Loano and will feature a maximum of eight races over the course of three days with a discard in effect after six completed races.

The Melges 32 is notable for its ability to plane over the water downwind in modest winds, and for its combination of a simple design that is highly tunable.

Alec Cutler's Melges 32, Hedgehog, is among the 'First of the Kings' racing fleet in Italy this weekend
RBYC skipper Alec Cutler finished second at the 2012 Melges 32 World Championship in Newport, Rhode Island, USA at the weekend

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Published April 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated April 16, 2015 at 10:27 pm)

Cutler heads experienced crew

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